How Film Photography Works

Even in a world of digital photography, there are still areas where film is king. The bottom line is that traditional black and white film creates a type of image that is unique, and you can't quite duplicate it with any other format.

What is Photographic Film?

Originally a simple strip of celluloid, photographic film is a plastic substrate covered with photosensitive chemicals. The idea behind a camera is that it allows for a controlled exposure of the film to light, which then causes an image to appear after it has developed. There are two primary factors to consider:

  • Type: The two basic types are color and black and white film. Color contains three different chemicals, each sensitive to a different color of light, while black and white film has only one chemical, producing a monochrome image.
  • Speed: Speed, or ISO, represents the film's sensitivity to light. High ISO professional film features large grains that respond to light quickly making it very useful in low light situations. You want low ISO in bright daylight and a higher ISO for indoor and nighttime shots.

What is T-Max P3200 Good For?

Kodak's T-Max P3200 is a high-speed film with a surprisingly fine grain. It uses a native ISO-800 but can push to 3200 during development. It's useful for a wide range of photo opportunities including:

  • Concerts: P3200 is great for concerts as the combination of tonal range and light sensitivity can give good results even in harsh illumination. You can also add extra time for push processing and boost it up to 6400 if necessary.
  • Street Scenes: One of the catches with street photography is the presence of dim and varying light levels. T-Max offers great shadow detail, so you can take low light photos without the need for an intrusive flash. It's a nice practical 35 mm film for outdoor use. Higher film speeds make certain pictures that would otherwise be impossible a snap.

Taking Photographs as Art

Monochrome photography is more of an art than a science. It's a way to capture an image that would be impossible to see otherwise, showing the world in monochrome. There's a certain sharpness to it that makes it really stand out in a way that color sometimes doesn't. With the right lens and a 35 mm camera you can take photographs that show the world in a whole new light. For even more detail you can use medium format film, which creates larger images that more closely approximate the world as seen by the human eye. The high sharpness of negative film brings out details that you would normally miss in the motion of real life; instead you see a slice of human existence caught between moments.

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